Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Good Riddance 2011

Worst end of the year ever.

It all started the Monday after graduation.  Gosh, in retrospect, at least this all began AFTER graduation!!  Anyway, I started having this pain on the left side of my mouth, similar to the pain that I felt a year ago when I needed a crown.  This crown that I got was so deep that my dentist told me I'd need a root canal one day because it was so close to the nerve... so close in fact that my dentist sent me home with a slew of antibiotics and pain killers after putting in the crown.  Naturally, I assume that this new pain is the indication that I now need the dreaded root canal associated with this crown.  Tuesday morning, I call my dentist and schedule an appointment for Wednesday morning where she takes full mouth x-rays, conducts the tap test and fracture test and concludes that everything looks OK.  Since I'd been stressed with school, she concludes that I must have been clenching my teeth which can cause this type of pain.  I'm sent home with instructions to use a mouth guard and take ibuprofen, and the pain should go away soon.

Not so much.  The pain does not go away and on Friday morning, it hurts bad.  This is the only day that I can actually pinpoint one tooth that hurts, versus the generalized pain that had been present... and of course the pinpointed tooth is the one with the crown.  I call my dentist's office which is closed, and then based upon Joann's recommendation, leave a message on the emergency line indicating that my mouth hurts so bad that I cannot sip liquids.  No call back.  Saturday morning, the pain is much worse and Jon takes me to the local emergency care center.  It took the doctor there about 10 minutes to diagnose me with acute sinusitis, which made sense because James had mentioned that sinus problems was a possibility.  I go home with antibiotics and pain killers.  Up until now the pain would come and go in spurts, becoming very intense but only for 10-15 minutes every hour or so, but now... the pain was not going away.  I had to cancel Christmas with the family and skip the annual Leftwich party in lieu of sleeping off the pain.  Hopefully the antibiotics would start working soon!!

Christmas morning, I wake up with a partially swollen face, and I can no longer eat without massive amounts of pain.  Since I had not planned for this, I asked James if he'd go get Chinese food with me for lunch since that was likely the only place open on the holiday.  Jon goes for Chinese food with is family every Christmas for dinner so I didn't think there would be a problem, however apparently not all of the restaurants are open for lunch.  After driving all over the place, we finally found an open place, though the soup wasn't very good and I still wasn't able to eat very much.  As a consolation, James went next door to the 7-Eleven and stocked my kitchen with a ton of ice cream and soup which would end up being my only food source for the next few days.

Monday morning the swelling was worse.  The antibiotics didn't seem to be working and it seemed clear that I'd need to schedule an immediate follow-up with an ENT doctor to figure out what the heck was going on.  Of course, all the offices were closed because of the holiday and so I'd have to wait until Tuesday.  Ugh.  Finally, on Tuesday I started getting through to ENT doctors offices, only nobody had any available appointments.  I tried everybody I could think of, and was even willing to drive all the way up to Georgetown, but not one place was able to see me.  The earliest appointment I could get was Thursday.... I ended up taking that one, but needed to do something about the pain and swelling and so James agreed to drive me to the ER, only this time I decided to go to an ER that was actually attached to a hospital so that they could conduct any necessary tests.  Joann said that INOVA Fair Oaks was the best, and so this is where I ended up.

I checked into the ER around 10:30 that morning, had two CT scans, hooked up to an IV and told I'd have to stay the night.  WHAT????  The doctor was sure this wasn't a sinus issue, and we're back to the dental problems.  Turns out there was an infection behind the tooth, and to make sure it didn't spread to my brain, they had to monitor me and give me a full dose of antibiotics.  I should have had breakfast before heading out that morning because now the doctor wasn't sure if I should eat because he wasn't sure what the oral surgeon would want to do.  OMG, I was soooo hungry!!  James hung out with me the whole day and finally the doctor allowed me to eat, and I had the best pizza ever from the cafeteria (ok.. probably not the best pizza ever, but I was so hungry it tasted fantastic).  Jon showed up a little later and the three of us killed a few long boring hours until my room was ready for me.  I was admitted to the hospital for the first time ever.

Joann and Ingrid were on their way to see me, but the oral surgeon had other plans.  He had to do a procedure to drain some of the fluid in the abscess.  This meant drilling a freaking hole in my gum, which I would feel because with all the swelling, the numbing wasn't going to work.  I'm sure this procedure lasted only 5 minutes or so but it felt like forever with the needles and scalpel going into my mouth... thankfully James stayed behind while Jon got dinner and held my hand through the ordeal.  I made it through in one piece... well, one piece with an extra hole in my mouth.  Worst pain ever, and now my mouth was stuffed with a bunch of gauze and so now it was as hard to talk as it was eat.  I'm sure I was a great sight for Joann, Ingrid and Rachael who arrived with balloons and Panera mac & cheese... turns out when it comes to mac & cheese, I could eat!!  One noodle at a time and confining the chewing to the right side, YUM.  The constant checking of my vitals and changing of the gauze started getting annoying.. one by one my friends left and thus began my lonely, sleepless night in the hospital room.
Mr. Bear joined me for the stay in the hospital :-)
I ordered yogurt and applesauce for breakfast on Wednesday and tried to nap until Jon showed up around 9.  Other than a brief outing to check on the dogs and get lunch for us, he kept me company all day until James showed up that evening with a lovely strawberry milkshake.  Not too much later, Joann arrives with sushi, and then Jon returned... we actually had a pretty good time joking around and playing games on James' iPad.  I needed to get out of that room and so we took a walk through the hallways where Jon said goodnight.  The pain was getting worse as I think I overdid it with the laughing and the eating.  I was so unhappy to be there for a second night and I think I worked myself into a good enough panic that the pain medication stopped working.  It was awful.  The hours kept passing and dose after dose of pain meds didn't seem to make a difference.  Jo and James stayed there with me even though they both had to get to work on Thursday morning, taking turns talking to the nurses and trying to get a doctor to come see me.  Around 2AM, I had a craving for pudding so James went on excursion and returned with a ton of pudding, crackers, soda, cupcakes (for the going home party) and flowers.... it helped.  Joann finally headed home around 4:30, and James decided to stay and sleep in the most uncomfortable chair ever for the next few hours.  So ready to go home.
Awesome flower color choice!

By Thursday morning, I was soooo exhausted, yet I could not get any good sleep in that hospital or with the IV machine hooked up to me (which, by the way, was the most annoying thing to have to unplug and drag around with me every time I had to go to the bathroom... which was frequent because of the constant stream of saline solution they were pumping into me along with the antibiotics).  I spent the morning alone fielding calls from work and trying to catch up with a few friends.  Cindy decided to come see me and took the day off so that I'd have someone to drive me home when I was finally released.  A coworker stopped by with more Panera mac & cheese and then finally, finally, finally, the discharge papers came.  I was FREE!!!!  Cindy and I went to CVS to fill my prescriptions and then back to the hospital to pick up my CT scans and then I was home-bound.

I got home around 4:00, took some Nyquil, and slept straight through until 3AM.  I took a couple more Tylenol, which is the only pain medicine they gave me, and slept until about 9 on Friday.  I had some of my cupcakes for breakfast, scheduled the root canal for Saturday and went back to bed to nap off and on for the rest of the day.  I finally did take a shower (first since Monday) and wash my hair (you don't even want to know when the last time *that* was), but later that evening, Jon scolded me for trying to do too much and so I didn't get a chance to flat iron.  I did have to call the doctor and get better pain meds called into the pharmacy.  My mouth started bleeding again and so it was back to bed, but Jon bought that iPad game and sat with me and played it.

Saturday.  The dreaded root canal.  I was soooo nervous.  I was told that if I went to a specialist it wouldn't be so bad, and it really wasn't except the way the Endodontist had to play with my mouth really hurt the incision from my procedure and the remaining swelling in my cheek.  That is, it was bearable until she started filling the canal.... because of the infection, the numbing agents didn't work 100% and so I felt a LOT of the filling process and it was seriously horrendous pain.  She finally finished, and my mouth was all swollen again, and I was in so much pain that I couldn't even stand in the reception area to handle the paperwork.  Luckily Jon was there and agreed to finish up inside while I sat in the car.  He brought me home and then went to get me scrambled eggs and fill my new prescriptions.  Back to bed.

Luckily, after breakfast and a nap, the swelling started going down and I started feeling a little better.  After all the sleep I'd gotten in the past couple days it was hard to nap any more and so I scheduled a nail salon appointment... decided to bring in the new year with pretty nails (sangria color with sparkle!).  I'm finally starting to feel better.  My mouth still hurts and I can't chew much.. and my arm is sore from where the IV is, but overall I was already so much better and ready to get out of the house and ring in the new year with my good friends over a quiet and classy dinner at Chef Geoff's.  Good riddance 2011, bring on the new year!!